Distributing Obligations, Performing Publics: Responsible Citizens in Post-Disaster Engagement

  • Juan Lama
  • Manuel TironiEmail author


In public discourse and much sociological research disasters are understood as critical situations in which the engagement of citizens is critical to rebuild the political, material and social texture sustaining everyday life. However, it remains unclear how post-disaster participatory techniques help in the modulation of certain types of citizens. In this article we ask: Do disasters, as a specific setting of participation, qualify or specify how citizenship is construed, thought, and brought into being? Drawing on the case of the 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile, we explore the role of responsibility distribution, inscribed in the organization and deployment of participatory exercises, in the performativity of citizens. Using in-depth interviews, ethnographic data and archival material we compare three different post-disaster participatory interventions, what we term participation apparatuses. Describing how participation theories and techniques were mobilized to define “who ought to do what,” we argue that different participation apparatuses enacted distinctive responsible publics. We label these publics the epistemic, decisional and narrative responsible publics. Our larger point is that research on the performativity of participation requires an expansion of both the settings of public participation and the mechanisms of performativity within participation apparatuses.


Participation apparatus Disasters Performativity Responsibility Citizenship 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Campus San JoaquínInstituto de Sociología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Centro de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Riesgo de Desastres CONICYT/FONDAP 15110017, Campus San JoaquínSantiagoChile

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